Romantic spots in Knoxville, Tennessee, aren’t hard to find. You can see beautiful mountain sunsets from almost anywhere in the city… and you can wine and dine your loved one beneath the shadow of the Sunsphere. For restaurants, Knoxville offers plenty of great choices. Looking for something special, something for a romantic edge? The following three restaurants have hosted more than their fair share of engagement proposals, anniversary celebrations and make-up dinners. Romance is in the air, but that doesn’t take anything away from the food. (And don’t worry, asking for a to-go box won’t make the evening any less romantic.)
1. Naples Italian Restaurant, Kingston Pike
Naples opened in 1981 but, to be honest, it’s hard to remember Knoxville without Naples. The restaurant seems to always win a slew of awards in the Metropulse’s “Best of Knoxville” poll every year. I’ve been lucky to eat there many times. A few were romantic. Most were actually business lunches. (Lunch is very reasonable. You can eat there easily for $10.) Supper is a little expensive. If you were careful, you could probably dine there for $35. For $50, you can order from their featured menu, add an appetizer or dessert and include some wine. (Naples probably has Knoxville’s best wine list.) Tables feature candles, so during the evening the restaurant is dark. If you’re planning a very romantic evening, let them know when you make reservations. You can get one of the booths that are sort of hidden from the rest of the diners. You’ll also find fresh flowers and sometimes piano or violin music. Reservations are a must on weekends. Learn more about Naples here.
2. Baker Peters Jazz Club, Kingston Pike (West Knoxville)
Baker Peters Jazz Club is wonderful. The live music makes it a great place to hang out with friends, especially the outdoor upstairs seating during spring and summer months. Downstairs, the club offers private dining areas and a great menu that changes every so often. The atmosphere can’t be beat. The building’s outside holds a cannon from the Civil War when both sides used the building at different times. As the name would imply, live jazz music is played most nights, but you might want to call ahead to make sure. Trust me, you want to dine on a music night! Again, the lighting is key to setting the tone for romance. The servers are also very discreet. You won’t have to ask for anything, but the wait staff is almost invisible. I’ve never had one interrupt a conversation. The restaurant also serves food late into the evening, unlike many places where the kitchen closes hours before the bar. Reservations are needed almost every night, but especially for dining on the weekend. The food is delicious but expensive. Plan on spending about $40 a person. A menu is available here.
3. Calhoun’s on the River, Hall of Fame Drive (just south of the University of Tennessee campus and downtown)
The food here is always great, the service is great, and the view is great. Calhoun’s on the River is on the banks of the a river and within walking distance of both Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee. This may sound odd, but Calhoun’s on the River can be the most romantic restaurant in Knoxville…at the right time. If you go when the Vols are playing football or basketball (or the Lady Vols are playing) at home, it’s not very romantic at all. It’s loud and rushed. On any other night, though, Calhoun’s is very relaxed and offers wonderful views of the sunset. The restaurant is famous for its ribs and my friends agree the ribs are the best. I usually opt for a seafood dish and I’ve never been disappointed. Plan on at least $50 for a couple. (This would probably cover chicken entrees.) Learn more here.